Corrections or additions?
This article by Angelina Sciolla
was prepared for the March 20, 2002 edition of
U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Screenwriting: Getting Started
If your adrenalin rush watching the Academy Awards this
Sunday night is so great that you find yourself scurrying to the
mirror to practice your acceptance speech for best screenplay, you
might also want to consider a few practical steps towards achieving
this nearly impossible dream.
connect with other writers via professional organizations,
and even community writing circles. Read, commiserate, workshop and
discuss your project. You’ll learn a great deal about how (and if)
others understand what you’re trying to create, and you’ll be inspired
and motivated by the company of other writers.
are finding markets for their work online. A number of reputable
and writers have created sites for shopping your screenplay. These
sites typically offer critique, contact lists, and will connect you
with interested producers. Some, like www.scriptsharks.com,
and www.zoetrope.com (Francis Ford Coppola’s literary site), are
fee-based. Others, including www.InZide.com and
are free. All boast a success rate for writers of about 25 percent
(hard to believe given the improbable statistics of number of
vs. number of movies actually produced) and claim to have matched
unknowns with producers surfing for fresh talent.
that suits your goals, and most importantly, your particular skill
level. A lot of novelists, journalists, and playwrights turn to
and although they’ve got a slight advantage because of their
experience, they still need to understand this very specific form
of writing. Novices with little or no professional writing experience
might do better with an introductory class, supplemented by some
Don’t think you have to plunk down hundreds of dollars either. A
priced day-long workshop is a better investment of time and money
for a beginner than a pricier semester-long class. If, after you’ve
completed an introductory course, you wish to study more, then
the more intensive — and more expensive — options. Be sure
to check out the credentials of your instructor as well. You’ll
from the expertise of someone who is active in the industry either
as a writing consultant or screenwriter with a few credits.
two names you should commit to memory. Goldman, the award-winning
writer of numerous films including "All the President’s Men,"
is the author of "Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View
of Hollywood and Screenwriting," a mix of practical advice and
amusing Hollywood dish that will have you chuckling between rewrites.
Syd Field gets to the heart of things with "The Screenwriters
Workbook" and "Screenplay: The Foundations of
You’ll learn about basic three-act structure as well as how to
format your script, right down to the type of binding and font you
should use. Visit www.scriptfly.com for other must-have titles.
a great way to network and learn about the industry. Many of these
events, notably Sundance, also sponsor screenwriting contests and
offer seminars and panel discussions for the further edification of
the film professional. These are also great places to discover trade
secrets and upcoming industry trends — the sort of impromptu
that doesn’t make it into movie magazines.
This simple-to-use program handles the formatting work for you and
allows you to create outlines and organized script notes. Once you
are ready to commit dialogue and scene changes to paper, you’ll be
amazed at how easy Final Draft makes this process.
go a long way. And pay attention to details. Producers and agents
are fickle about what they want and how they want to receive material.
When you’ve uncovered their idiosyncrasies and accumulated the
knowledge and tools, you’ll have a better excuse for practicing that
— Angelina Sciolla
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